Coaches have a tremendous impact on the lives of their players. The interactions I had with my middle school basketball coach are still very vivid today and I still employ some of the lessons he taught me about the value of hard work to this today.
As the summer comes to a close and basketball season gets closer every day, it is a good idea to take a minute to remind yourself that it's not just about winning enough games to make the state tournament.
Below are 10 basketball quotes that every coach can relate to and draw inspiration from during the upcoming season:
1. “A coach is someone who can give correction without causing resentment.”
― John Wooden
Almost all of us can think of a coach or PE teacher that we've had that seemed more like a Drill Sergeant than a Coach. They were hard, and typically yelled and most, if not all of their players, were fearful of them.
There is nothing wrong with being a tough coach. Coaches like Bobby Knight have made a career out of being tough. However, they commanded respect, rather than resentment, because they were focused more on correcting flaws through tough love, rather than abusing their position of power to demand obedience.
2. “Athletes need to enjoy their training. They don't enjoy going down to the track with a coach making them do repetitions until they're exhausted. From enjoyment comes the will to win.”
― Arthur Lydiard
Never forget that the reason we play or coach a sport is because we genuinely enjoy the game. At the end of the day, players join the team because they love the game of basketball. As a coach, it is your job to be able to find a balance between having fun and working hard. If you can do this, your players will be willing to run through a brick wall for you.
3. “Best coaches never tell their athletes that they are wrong. They rather focus on creating awareness.”
― Abhishek Ratna
Coaching is much more than pointing out when someone does something wrong. You have to be able to find a way to not only show your players what they did wrong, but also what they can do to fix it; all without belittling them in the process.
There will be times when the situation seems unavoidable and the player might feel embarrassed. That is part of the process. It only becomes a problem if you do not use that moment as an opportunity to teach the player how to not make the same mistake again.
4. “Mentorship is simply learning from the mistakes and mastery of a successful person in his/her field.”
― Bernard Kelvin Clive
Try not to forget that even though it might have been decades ago, there was a time that you didn't know how to shoot a ball or how to set a screen. Someone had to teach you. When you were playing, you made mistakes as well. But you learned from them and now have the ability to teach others how to avoid the mistakes that you made.
On the other side of that, there were things that you were good at as a player that you have most likely made a point of emphasis in your coaching philosophy. Just remember that someone taught you how to develop those skills as well.
5. “To truly motivate others (1) discover what their motives, desires & drivers are (2) genuinely connect with and support them from the heart.”
― Rasheed Ogunlaru
Get to know your players. Understand where they are coming from and why they want to play the game of basketball above anything else. Not only does this instill more confidence in them that you are a good coach, it will show them that you truly care about them. This will allow you to find the best way to motivate individuals and get them to trust that you have the ability to make them a better basketball player
6. “Great Leaders develop through a never ending process of self-study, self-reflection, education, training, and experience”
― Tony Buon
Red Auerbach and Phil Jackson, two of the most successful NBA coaches of all time, are known for a specific style of coaching and had a tendency to play the same style of play regardless of the the talent level or style of players on their roster. However, this does not mean that they stopped learning about new techniques and coaching philosophies.
The bottom line here is that you should not become complacent. You should never stop searching for new ways to improve your coaching skills. Don't hang your hat on the fact that you won a league, division, or tournament last year. Always be looking for ways to keep improving.
7. “We live in a society that only embraces success and that is who we are. It takes a great deal of inner strength to deal with the time commitment of coaching when very little seems to be accomplished.”
― George M. Gilbert
Games are won and lost during practice. In order to put your team in a position to win the big game, you must develop your teams ability to execute your game plan during practice. It is not glamorous, and it isn't what the parents, boosters and fans care about, but if you want to win on game day, you and your players have to put in the work in practice.
8. “Before success can truly become routine, there must be that transition from that wanting/hoping to have success toward honestly knowing you can earn success with your talents and work ethic.”
― George M. Gilbert
Entering my Sophomore year of high school, my team had lost 27 consecutive games. A new coach came in and from day one, all he talked about was a state championship. With almost every starter from the previous year coming back, the team was almost identical. We made it to the state semifinals that year. The only difference was a coach that made us truly believe that we not only had the ability to compete with teams, but had the ability to beat them.
Do your best to show your players that you have confidence in them and you will be amazed at what they can accomplish.
9. “ Winning takes a game plan and that's where a great coach comes in. He has to have the vision. He has to be the architect and design a particular style of play that his players can work together and excel at. The great Celtics teams that won 11 championships in the span of 13 seasons ( 1957-69) never changed their system. They played the same game regardless of who their cast was.”
― Walt Frazier
Earlier we talked about how Red Auerbach and Phil Jackson continued to innovate and improve even though they had a rigid system that all their players operated in. Red Auerbach won 11 championships in 13 years because he figured out how to utilize his TEAM in the most efficient way possible. For most of their championship seasons, the Celtics did not have a player that finished the season in the top 10 in scoring, but all five starters averaged double digit point totals for the season.
Phil Jackson, who won 11 championships in 20 seasons with his famous triangle offense, was able to dominate the NBA in multiple decades by finding players that would fit his system the best. Of course having Michael Jordan, Scottie Pippen, Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal didn't hurt, but he still had to develop a game plan that would allow them to play within the system.
10. "...this was the thing with coaching: you had to step back at exactly the moment you ached to step forward.”
― Chris Cleave
There will come a time during the season - most likely during a critical moment of a big game - when you won't be able to call a timeout to draw up the perfect play. What your players do in that moment will show you how well you've coached them. Your job as a coach is to teach your players what to do in the moments when the opposing team hits a shot to go up by one with 20 seconds left and you have no timeouts.
When you really get down to it, you became a coach because you love the game of basketball and you love to see others develop that same love of the game. Always keep that in mind. If you do, your players, your program and your school will benefit from it.
Want to hear more from the best coaches in the game? Check out what these Hall of Fame coaches have to say!